Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) has called on newly-appointed Minister of Information Gospel Kazako to expedite the operationalisation of the Access to Information Act.
Executive Director Vusumuzi Sifile urged Kazako to prioritise the ATI Act as it has been gathering dust since its enactment in 2016 due to delays in setting up necessary systems and structures to support its implementation.
Sifile said: "We are confident the ATI law presents increased opportunities for citizens to access information held by public entities and enhanced citizen participation in decision making processes. The ATI Act provides for the right to access information held by public entities and relevant public bodies.
"It is retrogressive that a law that was enacted in 2016 is still not operational because of delays in the setting up of the necessary systems and structures to facilitate its implementation. Laws are developed in order to be implemented, not for the sake of showing that we have the laws."
The director expressed it's unreserved optimism in Kazako's ability to excel in his citing his illustrious record at Zodiak Broadcasting Station.
"Mr Kazako built Zodiak into a media powerhouse in Malawi, blazing a trail for other media actors across the region," noted the organisation.
Panos then encouraged Kazako to prioritise building a vibrant media sector that will amplify voices of all Malawians on development issues affecting them, enhance engagement between citizens and decision makers, and provide a platform for citizens to hold their leaders to account on public service.
"The law has provisions which we are confident will strengthen investigative journalism, which will enable the media to effectively play its role as a watchdog, as the fourth estate in the new administration," says Sifile.
It also encouraged the new minister to use the opportunity to free up the public broadcaster, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to function as mandated.
Kazako is a former employee of MBC but went on to establish his own private media house: "We are confident Mr Kazako appreciates the importance of media freedom as a catalyst for the realisation of the new administration’s objective on media growth in Malawi."